The day, Wednesday, the 9th of April 2003.
“The American troops enter Saddam’s city peacefully”, this was the headline I saw when I woke up this morning. Ok, they’re on this side of the city. I didn’t give much attention to this news in the beginning; Baghdad is a big city with many big neighborhoods. Later my friend, Ahmed, asked me to go with him to buy some stuff they need for his grandfather’s funeral. As soon as we got to the street we saw something weird; there wasn’t even a single policeman or security personnel in the street, even traffic policemen disappeared. As a matter of fact we were heading just opposite to the direction from which the coalition troops are advancing and as we reached our destination we found some of the Ba’ath militia taking position in a narrow corner in the market and they looked scared. However, we shopped and drove back home and in the way I told my friend “it must be over, I feel this” he said “let’s try that guy standing over there” he was an ordinary man. I asked “what’s going on?” he said “I don’t know but the army and the Ba’ath party members have evaporated”. A little bit later we were surprised to see a police car driven by a bearded man in civilian clothes, we looked at each other’s face (what is this??) the man was driving around the square again and again with the siren turned on! Just a few seconds later we saw a governmental bus but the passengers were just an ordinary family and they were all sitting near the driver and they were all laughing! It seems that everything is over. I cried: HE’S GONE.
We drove home fast and as I entered the house I found that everyone was watching the news; they were showing an area that’s just a few kilometers from our place and there was a man slapping Saddam’s portrait with his slipper and another one shouting “we’re Americans, no, we’re USA! The time has come when America teaches Saddam a lesson". We were stunned, Saddam has fallen. The neighbors and friends gathered in the street, some faces were laughing and others, you could see fear and denial in their eyes.
I couldn’t hold myself and the joy that overwhelmed me anymore. This is not the time to stay at home, I drove with my friend to celebrate with the people and when we reached the first main street, the scene was different than what it looked an hour ago; their was a clash among the looters at one of the military facilities, we tried to ignore them and go on, but we were surprised by a spray of fire above our heads; the car in front of us took a very fast turn and stopped in front of us the driver shouted at us “go back, they’re stealing cars also”. There was a bunch of armed people standing few hundred meters away with their faces directed towards us. I didn’t see any American troops, they’re not here yet. We hurried back to our homes; the streets are too dangerous.
The rest of my friends and neighbors were waiting to hear from us, I screamed "Saddam has fallen" Everybody was shocked. Some of them couldn’t say a word, one of them asked me to repeat what I said and I replied "F*** Saddam". None of us dared before to swear at the ‘leader’ in public. My father put the radio aside and I saw tears in my father friend’s eyes, who hugged my father and congratulated him. We started to hug each other with tears of joy but I was somewhat depressed. I want to go out to the streets and scream as loud as I can to celebrate my freedom, but I couldn’t.
We gathered around the TV with our neighbors and friends watching the fast events and the funny thing is that many Arab channels (who were covering the war 24 hours a day) have totally ignored the issue in the beginning. They were showing songs, shows or scientific reports!!
We saw the people gathering around the statue and the American and Iraqi flags were held high by Iraqis and American soldiers…. And the statue fell, and fear fell, and here goes Baghdad free of her tyrant. A great feeling of relief.
One of my friends took his AK-47 and fired some shots in the air (for the first time in his life) we don’t know what to do and how to feel but the important thing is…It’s over.